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Wraiith303
Jan 16, 2019


So I keep ants. They are super cool and fun to watch. To prove this point I will share some progress of my Camponotus queen. She was caught on 11 November 2018 running around on the ground while we were having a braai (a braai is like a BBQ, except better - prove me wrong)

It took a few days before she settled in laid her first few eggs. Here you can see her with her brood:



Whenever there were some vibrations on the table where she was being kept - she would pick her brood up and run around. (She was being stressed out and did not feel safe) and whenever she relaxed, she would groom herself.

Here she can be seen about a month in with her brood:



I am by no means an ant expert, and there is every possibility that I even misidentified her species. Ant queens are generally claustral or semi-claustral. If a queen is claustral it means once she finds a founding chamber and lays her eggs she does not need to go hunt for food, she will wait for her workers to be born so they can hunt for her and feed her. Semi-claustral queens still forage for food after laying their eggs.

At around new years, her first worker was "born"
Here you can see her with her first batch of workers taking care of the larvae and pupae: (edit: she was cropped out of the image)



Fun fact, if you were an ant, you would only poop once from egg>larvae>pupae - You can see the little brown dots on the cocoons. Yup - that's larvae poop.

Here she is today:



It's still a little soon for her to be moved to a formicary - or for those illiterate brutes amongst us - an ant farm. The colony is very healthy. My only regret is that I did not make it easier to hydrate them. The second queen I caught, a Myrmecaria queen was much easier. My second mistake was that the container where she is being kept is "too big" and I believe this led to a great deal of extra stress for the young queen.

Are there any other goonie ant keepers around?

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Goons Are Great
Nov 24, 2013

Please drink responsibly




drat, I was looking for a thread like that for ages and then decided to make my own as soon as my grand plan™ comes to its conclusion in the coming spring, but you beat me to it.

How long have you been into ant keeping and what other colonies did you own so far?
Your queen looks quite good, would you mind sharing your final setup for them in its full perfection? Also, do you have any idea which camponotus sp. it might be exactly?
Given that some of those ladies tend to become quite large depending on the species, I'm curious how your setup looks like, as this was quite a breaking point for me in the past.

I've been into ant keeping for quite a while now, but due to moving around and changing stuff in life I let my hobby slide for half a year now, which is why this is more or less a beyond-grave-report.
My last colony of Myrmica Rubra that lasted for several years died out quite horribly just recently, as due to a bad mite infection over the last summer (surely because I didn't take it seriously enough in the beginning) their numbers were dwindling and, since I live in the ice cold climate of Europe, they weren't in best shape when they wanted to go to winter's slumber.
I set them up for winter, all went well so far, but for some reason the last living queen that had survived the parasites couldn't get any rest despite that her entire setup was in cold temperatures. My guess is that she hadn't had the energy to prepare correctly and dried out over the cold and dry air that she had to deal with.
My final attempt to save her and her colonies' life was when I took them out of winter and warmed them back up, which turned out to be even a greater mistake, as it costed them all energy in their confused and disorganized attempts to keep the colony running. They died shortly after and I do feel very guilty about it.

Either way my setup is now antless, but not lifeless. I have an exploding colony of at least three springtail species living in Myrmica's former formicarium, alongside several small bugs and earth worms, all who don't give a crap about winter and they breed continously as if they plan to take over the world, which, from their perspective on the ants, they kinda did
As soon as spring drops by from March onwards I plan to get some new ants, most likely a healthy Lasius Niger queen that got pregnant in autumn, as she and her kids will fit very well in my new, though compact formicarium, as I wanted to downsize everything for practical and safety reasons.

Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

AliExpress has some very cool ant enclosures, for very cheap

Excellent founding testubes with sand refillable weirs

I'm currently keeping Myrmecia pilosula, Myrmecia piliventris, camponotus nigricips and Rhytidoponera metallica and pseudoneoponera

I have mealworms and fruitfly cultures for live food, and some locally made ant foods, and real honey.

Alot of the ants I keep are gamergates, and take a very long time to create workers

They are semi claustral, and the larvae are like wasp larvae and need huge amounts of food

Be careful with springtails, they can become a nuisance, and some will target protein, like ant eggs. Mites are a constant issue, and will come in on insects wild caught or even commercially sourced.

It's good to have an accessible outworld to clean.




Kharnifex fucked around with this message at 09:34 on Feb 8, 2019

Goons Are Great
Nov 24, 2013

Please drink responsibly




Kharnifex posted:

AliExpress has some very cool ant enclosures, for very cheap

Excellent founding testubes with sand refillable weirs

I'm currently keeping Myrmecia pilosula, Myrmecia piliventris, camponotus nigricips and Rhytidoponera metallica and pseudoneoponera

I have mealworms and fruitfly cultures for live food, and some locally made ant foods, and real honey.

Alot of the ants I keep are gamergates, and take a very long time to create workers

They are semi claustral, and the larvae are like wasp larvae and need huge amounts of food

drat, you've been places. What's your setup like with such a collection of species? Also, how do you keep, feed and ultimately use the fruit flies? Was thinking about that kind of food a year ago, but didn't get into it.

Kharnifex posted:

Be careful with springtails, they can become a nuisance, and some will target protein, like ant eggs. Mites are a constant issue, and will come in on insects wild caught or even commercially sourced.
Yeah I know. When I did a microscope sweep and check on how the outworld looks like, I found that somehow mites got in after all, but that's what they do. I'm considering doing either a full clean up of the outworld to get rid of them, but I don't really want to right now, as long as it's not necessary. Might just get a second outworld and keep this one separated instead, if I find them or any of the other small things to become a problem.

I have a rather large separation between the current outworld where the springtails live and the nest the ants will get, so I hope this won't become a major issue, as so far they showed barely motivation to move anywhere at all, as they happily feed on whatever's left lying around.
However, being a very modular setup, I hope that if stuff goes downhill with the new colony, I can still fix things by separating the modules and re-arrange them after clean up.

Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

I have a large cube tank with fluon coating on the top, with Hebel stone cut and fitted, with some clay on

Several Chinese laser cut Perspex jobs

Some sit in a glass cabinet, not heated currently but will need it once summer ends

Re the fruit flies you just shake them out, I have a culture of wingless ones from a lab

I bought some plastic cups with fabric mesh lids from America, (Josh's frogs) and I put in a food medium at the bottom and some cut paper on top

The food im trialling currently is shredded oats, vinegar, orange juice, paprika with some yeast sprinkled on top, should find out if it's successful in a week or so, YouTube's full of how to's

Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

My mite infections all came from grain and crickets I bought.

The other worst thing is flies like phorid flies which will infestation everything

Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

Mum and first bub,

two more larvae and several eggs



Myrmecia pilosula

Came home, opened my wingless fruit fly, to find millions of fruit fly with wings, some without, and some phorid flies,

room currently swirling with bugs

at least the ants have food

Goons Are Great
Nov 24, 2013

Please drink responsibly




Kharnifex posted:

Mum and first bub,

two more larvae and several eggs



Myrmecia pilosula

Came home, opened my wingless fruit fly, to find millions of fruit fly with wings, some without, and some phorid flies,

room currently swirling with bugs

at least the ants have food

Now those look gorgeous. When did you get that queen mom?

Also that fly thing was something I was wondering about. As long as they're not super genetically modified I'd assume some offspring gaining wings again (or evolving new ones in super evolution speed ), however since they are still the most practicable prey insects, how will you deal with those that can fly? I assume the ants won't really have a chance catching them.

Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

It's outside infection, so it's my fault, the wingless ones should stay wingless for a while, I don't know the basics of their recessive gene etc, too lazy to google it

The ones that fly I've used a one way trap and drown them and returned them to the outworld

I got that queen on an Aussie website, there's a few!

lol but
Feb 24, 2007

body is a dinosaur


Slippery Tilde

Find it interesting that termite queens turn into cool alien sacks but ant queens go giant but retain usual proportions. You have an handsome ant queen btw Wraiith303.

Goons Are Great
Nov 24, 2013

Please drink responsibly




lol but seriously I posted:

Find it interesting that termite queens turn into cool alien sacks but ant queens go giant but retain usual proportions. You have an handsome ant queen btw Wraiith303.

That's because Termite queens massively expand their ovaries and produce by far more eggs in a much shorter time than ants do, as their workers live a much shorter life (and usually have more enemies), they have to produce both females and males with various tasks (many termite species have specific soldiers for example, where as ants usually only have workers, even though in various sizes for various tasks including specifically defending) and they need to be re-fertilized by the termite king regularly, while ant queens get fertilized once on their life by many, many males, then store the sperm in their spermatheca for the rest of their life, continuously fertilizing the eggs inside her body with it.

Also, after months of preparing, waiting and also hoping, I finally got the start of my new colony. Meet HRH Queen Anne(t) I., of the species Lasius Niger, or Black Garden Ant.



She got pregnant very late last autumn and managed to already raise some kids before winter hit her and she went to well-earned sleep. Now that spring is hitting again, she got active and is now placed in her hopefully new nest in my Formicarium, that I kept rebuilding and expanding over the course of the past 7 months.
As far as I can see she and her kids are fine, still in shock due to the world around here being quite moving, but slowly she is calming down and showing comfort behavior. Currently she does not seem to have any eggs produced, which is no surprise as she probably got out of sleep just a few days ago and is still waking up. Her workers are also still very inactive, but regularly taking care of her, cleaning her and I hope also feeding her with a bit of the honey I offered them. Not entirely sure if every worker made it through winter, but she should at least have enough ladies to keep her save for now.
Now I need to wait and how many days, weeks or months it takes for them to get back to egg production and maybe even move out of the birth tube, hopefully accepting the nest I respectfully offered them.

Goons Are Great fucked around with this message at 12:37 on Mar 19, 2019

Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

Up to several workers, cocoons and eggs and larvae



One of my fruit fly colonies got mites so I've had to be careful and wipe out any infestations.

Goons Are Great
Nov 24, 2013

Please drink responsibly




Ah, that looks good!
How did you tackle the mites? Presumably by killing off every possibly infected fly?

Currently feeding my guys with freeze dried insects, decided to also get wingless fruit flies later on, but given that I currently have exactly 3 ants including the queen there's no real need to go big yet. Also they moved out of the Glas into their nest and placed it in a way I can barely see anything, so I don't even know if they have brood. Those fuckers.

Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

Basically anytime I have mites I toss the lot and soapwash the container and shelves etc

The only thing that works is keeping humidity down

Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

Trying out some jumping jacks in a dual perspex setup with a fishtank outworld underneath, I need to add one of those cool "trees" you see in shrimp tank setups

At first I was worried the workers would get stuck in the outworld and get trapped but they seem to have worked it out very quickly, up to 6 workers, 3 nanitics, and a few cocoons and larvae in waiting. Feeding on mealworms, crickets and fruit flies, and some ant nectar and honey.







Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

There has been more workers hatched, and a flurry of activity to plug up extra spare testtubes to make humidity gradients for an army of larvae
they have figured out how to use the tubes to get up and down somewhat.





Goons Are Great
Nov 24, 2013

Please drink responsibly




drat, that looks like a space station! Amazing.
Do you need to separately heat this setup?

Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

I have led lights underneath the main laser cut Chinese Perspex nests on the roof, they are on a timer for heat, so far, so good.

The workers have piled cocoons where it's warmest as they do in nature. I've noticed during the warmer periods of the day natural nests have a donut ring like structure around the main nest entrances to bake the pupae

If I think it's insufficient I will take my heat cord and place it around to make a temp gradient

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

ASK ME ABOUT MY LOVE OF EUGENICS AND MARIO 3


College Slice

I managed to catch a Camponatus Novae. outside of Walmart today:



This is my 8th Queen this summer. The other seven are all Camponatus Penn. Some still have their wings and seem to be infertile or signs there of (so far all late in egg laying, the one that has laid eggs so far after 3 weeks laid them about all scattered).

The worrisome queens were the first four I caught (outside my apartment building in the local park). I caught three more within the last week 2 wingless from logs/stumps and then another one with wings on the bike path.

Then this last one.

I'll be checking up on the first 7 ants tomorrow, once they're timing is all aligned I'lk consolidate them all to the same testtube tray instead of having scattered testtubes in various drawers (Basically each ant I got after the first four I put in their test tube, and then placed the test tube in a container with bubblewrap to prevent rolling around).

I got into ant keeping this month because of binge watching AntsCanada which had infectious enthusiasm.

My understanding is campos are good "beginner" ants to keep, chill, HUGE and easily observable, not picky eaters, good in various environments, etc. Though:
-Notorious cotton pullers.
-Need to get a wine fridge October-ish to hibernate them.
-Slooooooooooooooow.

My understanding is this is the "plan":
-Wait for them to lay eggs, eta 1-3 weeks from capture; my first 4 ants are taking 3-4 weeks to lay eggs atm. Probably stressed as I xfered them between different setups until I got my test tubes.
-Wait a month for the eggs to develop and hatch to see if they are female workers. Release any proven infertile queens back into the wild.
-Feed them once a week or so? Maybe in a small tub & tube setup? Until probably *next year* around the 1 year anni. mark when they have hopefully enough workers (20-50 to 50-70?) before xfering them to a formicarium & outworld.

If I have any spare campos I'll probably trade them I guess for a different local species like camponatus herc.?

I tried to kidnap a wild Myrmica Rubra colony/nest of European Fireants local to my area (albeit invasives) but no luck finding a queen and I don't even really have a good setup for them anyways. Ideally I want to start from a single queen, but I might opt for stealing a log inhabited by them and transporting them to a prepared container. Since they're apparently classified as invasive pests in my region (Canada) I'm told not to feel bad doing this.

Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

Once the campo queen's have a few nanitics, make sure you have an enclosure on standby

I really recommend ones with multiple tubes that allow you to swap them out once they are dried and abandoned

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

ASK ME ABOUT MY LOVE OF EUGENICS AND MARIO 3


College Slice

The Pennsylvaticus's eggs appear to have grown in size and thickness.


My Novae has all of hers in the humid part, I was worried about her as I tried to give her honey 2 weeks ago and it freaked her out and the week after I wasn't sure if she ate any eggs, but she seems to have plenty.


I tend to feed honey to some of the eggless ants to try to like, bribe them.

Kharnifex
Sep 11, 2001

Plop

Nice,

The use of heat cords has meant my Jumping jacks have had a fairly steady winter, and now that it's spring here, I think the population may explode.

I have alot of space for them but I do always wonder of there will be a colony collapse style event

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

ASK ME ABOUT MY LOVE OF EUGENICS AND MARIO 3


College Slice

I wish I could do that but North American/Canadian carpenter ants *need* to diapause or they die.

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Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

ASK ME ABOUT MY LOVE OF EUGENICS AND MARIO 3


College Slice

Some Ant-Updates.

I've transitioned my ant colonies to mostly Ants Canada gear; their test tubes/ant portals/adaptors etc make it convenient to gradually plug in play expand my various ant realms. I have some Hybrid nests in storage but right now they're way too big for my colonies.

Right now my average colony is housed like this:



The main/original nesting tube, connected to a Ant Portal (the box, it has 4 exit ports and a lid, to serve as a pseudo outworld for nanetic colonies), which connects to an Outworld (Empire of Ants outworld as the Ants Canada outworlds are 80$ and too large, but next year I expect to order like 5).

Gradually I've plugged in fresh water tubes to be replacement nests as the old nests get moldy, but they haven't all been cooperative in moving to them. But if they complete the move I remove the old tube (usually a 20mm test tube with a 3D printer adaptor, which is a pain and I'm slowly replacing them) and either plug it up or prepare for future expansion.

It's also been interesting trying to figure out the best way of handling expansion, figuring out what can plug into what.



My Camponotus Novobarcensis colony seems to like nesting in the transit tubes, or storing brood there.



The main stumbling point to replacing this tube with a new one is while the Queen has been escorted into a new tube, half the brood pile and most of the workers have remained behind despite the proximity of the LED lamp.

I'm debating getting a heating pad or maybe a better heating lamp, I'm using low watt bulbs but I'm not sure if they're really helping.



I had caught my original ant queens myself but I went and bought Myrmica Rubra, European Fire Ants. I have named them Muspelheimr. Land of the Fire Giants.

Collectively all of my ants are Antheimr.

The Four Camponotus Pennsyvaticus colonies are Midgard, East, West, North, and South.

The red backed carpenter ants I showed earlier are Nidavellir.

I also have four other queens that are likely infertile, I've had them for a year without eggs, but 2 of them this year have started egg laying, one of almost surely infertile but the other, which my dad sent me, probably fertile, they will join Midgard, for it has been foretold.

I feed them mealworms about once every 2-4 days, I got some superworms which I've fed to them once in a while for variety, and a gaggle of crickets which once they are all gone no more crickets, they are loud and smelly, I think I'll go all in on superworms but might give hissing roaches a chance.



Ants just nonchalantly carrying off big giant chunks of insect is amusing to me. Ants honestly behave kind of weird and are interesting to observe.

If I can arrange some permits I'd love to go for some exotic tropical ants, like dinomyrmex gigas or solenopsis geminata so I have something to care for during the winter since they obviously won't hibernate.

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